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Exercise-Associated Muscle Cramp-Doubts About the Cause.

Jahic D, et al. Mater Sociomed. 2018.


Introduction: Exercise-associated muscle cramp (EAMC) is one of the most common conditions that occur during or immediately after the exercise, with questionable etiology.

Aim: Aim of article was to present doubts about the cause of EAMC, whether it is primarily a neurological condition or it is water and salt imbalance.

Results: Strongest evidence supports the neuromuscular aetiology with the focus on the muscle fatigue. Muscle overload and fatigue affects the balance between the excitatory drive from muscle spindles and the inhibitory drive from the Golgi tendon organs (GTO). This results in a localized muscle cramp. Since the dehydration and electrolyte depletion are systemic abnormalities, it is not clear how these changes would result in local symptoms such as cramping of the working muscle groups.

Conclusion: "Triad" of causes might be behind the etiology of EAMC, although the "altered neuromuscular control" theory with the "dehydration" theory is the most cogent descriptive model that explains the origin of EAMC. Treatment and prevention strategies for EAMC include: electrical cramp induction, kinesio taping and compression garments, massage therapy, electrolyte supplementation and hydration, corrective exercise, stretching, quinine, pickle juice, hyperventilation strategies.


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